HOMES where robots do chores were a sci-fi vision in US cartoon The Jetsons in the Eighties. But smart homes are now a reality, less crazy-looking, and can save both money and the environment.
Theres an outlay for kit but often you more than recoup it and, from day one, you cut CO2 and plastic waste. A smart thermostat turns off heating if youre out, a smart washing machine uses just the right amount of water and LED lights are a bright idea, using a fraction of the power normal bulbs do.
There are smart blinds, ovens and even loos too. Here are some of the options.
Aqualisa Quartz Classic, from 714,wolseley.co.uk: You know how it is… youre waiting for the shower to warm up to just how you like it, leaning in to test the water for ages. With this shower, LED lights show when it reaches your individual setting (no more getting scalded when you shower after someone else).
In some systems, a proximity sensor reduces the flow when you move away from the shower an instant water saving. And it works with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, so you can control everything simply with your voice.
Washloo Supreme, 1,995,washloo.co.uk: This toilet is genius. It has a heated seat, night light, will wash and dry your bum and even deodorise the loo.
This eliminates the need for loo roll saving money and the environment.
Too pricey? The Washloo Classic, on sale for 399, does all this and bolts on to your existing toilet.
Boxt boiler, from 1,520,boxt.co.uk: On average, a new boiler will save around 300 per year at current gas prices.
Boxts website is very smart, giving you a fixed price as soon as you answer a few questions.
Choose from Baxi, Vaillant, Ideal and Worcester Bosch.
Then, you can add smart accessories such as thermostats and smoke alarms and theyll fit them for free while the boiler is installed.
Quooker tap, from 1,150,quooker.co.uk: This is an expensive tap at first.
But as well as hot and cold water, it will give you boiling water instantly and more efficiently than kettles. Quooker reckons it costs just 4p a day to run.
Add an accessory called a Cube (1,150) and you can get sparkling and chilled water from the tap, too.
This will save money in the long run and helps the environment by reducing the amount of plastic bottles being used.
Bosch Home Connect Serie 6 Washing Machine, 699, John Lewis: Control this from anywhere, via the app on your phone. Enter the type of laundry and soil level and it uses just the right amount of detergent and water.
Bosch Home Connect is also in ovens, hobs and fridges which you can control with your voice.
Thats great for turning the fridge down to save money while youre away or making sure the hob is definitely off.
Dinner in the oven but youre delayed coming home? Alexa can pause the oven for you – lowering the temperature until youre ready so your meal isnt ruined.
Tado smart thermostat, from 199.99,uk.shop.tado.com: If nobodys home, this thermostat knows and reminds you to adjust the heating.
If you open a window, it knows youre too hot and turns the heating down.
It also sends you energy savings reports so you know youre spending less cash.
And, with the right smart speaker or app, you can control it with your voice.
Duette smart blinds, prices vary, duette.co.uk: Duettes blinds can be battery-powered, so there is no fiddly wiring. And there is voice control say Alexa, Good Morning and theyll open.
Duettes honeycomb design keeps heat in better than regular blinds or curtains. They reduce heat loss by up to 46 per cent. In the winter, this cuts heating bills by up to 12 per cent.
Philips Hue, from 69.99,philips-hue.com: Philips Hue is the leader in smart lighting and it shows.
Choose from white bulbs or those with literally millions of colours. You can control the lights from a smartphone or with your voice.
The starter kit includes a bridge that connects to your broadband and means you can turn the lights on whether you are at home or not. LED bulbs save a lot of energy, too up to 80 per cent less electricity.
SAY WHAT YOU MEAN
Though some of the smart appliances here have physical controls, such as the Quooker tap, others work when you talk to them.
If you have an Amazon device, such as the Echo Show 15 which works as a smart home hub, you can simply say Alexa, turn the heating up and the appropriate smart device will respond.
In most cases, the same will work with Google Assistant (say, Hey, Google…) and with Apples Siri virtual assistant (Hey, Siri).
Much easier than flipping switches.